A thoughtful reader has challenged me to offer a more particular definition of what I consider “junk.” And in time I will try to do so, because having raised the issue myself, I ought to be willing to face it squarely. But until such time, I would refer readers to the previous post where I criticize the work of Ellsworth Kelly, who I put forth as representative of the artist-as-charlatan. I do so boldly from the sense that Mr. Kelly himself is unlikely to stumble upon my remarks and is therefore in little danger of having his feelings hurt. Or, even if he were to read them — “famous” as he has become, he cannot expect everyone to gush about what he does. Obviously he has critics, as assuredly he’s aware. If one cannot take the heat (as we all know), one has the admonition to stay out of the kitchen. Right?
Now then, to more pressing concerns: self-confidence. What about the artist who fears that his own works are junk? What about the over-fastitious individual who cannot accept the merits of what he does, who is overly critical, who is perhaps crippled by a sense of failure? Sometimes highly talented people — just the sort who we’d expect to be “great” artists, are of this type. So what about them?
Van Gogh had perhaps the best answer when he said, “if you hear a voice telling you you cannot paint, then paint My Boy, and that voice will be silenced.” Van Gogh heard that voice. He fought that voice, which sounded in his own head. The paintings he left — in their great beauty and brightness — are the answers he gives us.
The cure for a lack of confidence is work. Just do it.